Seen framed in the stairwell of FCC Phnom Penh:
“I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within.” Lilian Smith
Quiet and enjoyable afternoon drawing in the gardens at Raffles Hotel, Phnom Penh. I love palace hotels, and all beautiful buildings born of the human creative spirit. This gorgeous hotel was build in 1929. Gorgeous, peaceful gardens, details like beveled glass, elegant dining room and classy staff, the hotel is an ode to an era of elegant traveling!
Possibly the most iconic place in Phnom Penh for a writer, is the FCC, the Foreign Correspondant Club. It has been around since colonial days and has seen a lot of famous and not so famous journalists and other expats walk up the stairs to the bars. The food there, by the way, is delicious!
From the bar you can watch the promenade along the Tonle Sap, and the coming together of the two rivers, the Tonle Sap and the Mekong. Of course you can also sit and draw to your heart’s content!
There were so many wildly conflicing reports about Phu Quoc that at times I thought to skip it altogether. In the end, I took the plunge,made the arrangements and went adventuring. From CanTho I took a bus to Rach Gia and from there the Superdong 3 to Phu Quoc. I was very glad I went and Phu Quoc was everything they all said. I loved my stay . Although the resort was on the high side of affordable, I most enjoyed falling asleep and waking to the sound of the surf. I travelled with a very adventurous foodie and so was introduced to some very interesting Vietnamese dishes!
Eventually I decided to leave for the sake of my figure. Round the corner from the resort was à french artisan baker who made the most divine and irresistible croissants! I did not resist. Not a single day of my stay. When I left, I had 2 for the road in my bag!
Getting to Ben Tre was something of an adventure, made totally wonderful by the kindness and helpfulness of strangers. All my thanks Phuong!!!
In the end, when I finally arrived and was welcomed by my lovely hosts at Oasis resort, I went on a tour led by Hong. There were 4 of us going on the boat down the arm of the Mekong. We passed boats with painted eyes, looking out, Hong told us, for crocodiles. There aren’t too many crocodiles in the Mekong, but those that may be left would be afraid of the boats with eyes!
I spent much of my time in Saigon not feeling well. Something to do with the pollution and the air conditioning. I did get out to do things and to meet people but I wasn’t exactly bouncy. For the few days I spent there I had a few more things planned which will have to wait for the next opportunity. Eventually though I walked into a druggist shop and bought a mask. That has helped a lot even if she apparently did not have the matching cape!
Proof that I did feel well enough to leave the hotel, this lady sat outside the hotel playing with grandchildren. When I stepped out she would wave at first, then one day she got up, came to stand in front of me smiling from ear to ear and telling me something in Vietnamese, then she took my hands and lead us into a little dance before letting me go off down the street.
That’s to be at least as dangerous as running with scissors!
I rode a rickety rental bike with a very uncomfortable sadle to the Harbor yesterday. In spite of everything, the saddle, the traffic, the potholes, it was a wonderful ride. I even tried a couple of those inviting alleys and was again pleasantly surprised with unexpected sites.
There were fishermen on the beach sorting out their nets. Their little round boats intrigue me, they are mostly painted blue and they go out quite a ways in the ocean. I noticed that day that they use pop bottles for floaters and they attach a light to the pole. I’ve only seen them out during the day time but I’m guessing they go out at dusk or night as well.
Memory works in strange ways. Metal gates like these are everywhere in Vietnam, some actually serve to close off something or open into something, but a number are like this, just there with the posts that hold up a lone rusty gate. The gate itself usually reminds me of the one that closed off the yard I grew up in, but it was the blue and White House number that really took me back and made me smile.